Illinois, Wisconsin sued over transgender name-change laws

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In this Jan. 10, 2012 file photo, election officials check the photo identification card of a voter in Cimarron, Kan. (AP Photo/The Hutchinson News, Travis Morisse, File)

Attorneys are suing Wisconsin and Illinois over laws that forbid transgender individuals from changing their names if they have certain criminal convictions.

Both lawsuits argue that the states are violating free speech rights and are preventing people from expressing how they identify themselves.

The lawsuits were filed Wednesday in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, and Cook County, Illinois. They say eight transgender women in Illinois and one transgender woman in Wisconsin face discrimination and ridicule because they’re forced to present IDs with names that don’t reflect how they identify themselves.

The lawsuits seek to stop the states from enforcing their laws.

Thirteen states don’t require disclosure of criminal history for name changes. Twenty-eight states and Washington, D.C., require criminal background checks, but don’t automatically bar name changes. Illinois and Wisconsin are among nine states with more restrictive laws.

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